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When it comes to impacting the global economy, politics and philanthropy billionaires play an outsized role. In 2022, Forbes predicts that there will be 2,668 billionaires in the world. 1 Members of an even more restricted club have even more influence than before. Billionaires who established tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook still have a large portion of their fortunes invested in those businesses. 2
In order to avoid having to sell their shares, they can still take out a loan against that wealth and defer (or perhaps eliminate) taxes on unrealized capital gains.
Tax breaks are also available to multi-billionaires, allowing some to avoid paying any income tax in recent years.
1. Elon Musk
Co-founder and CEO: Tesla
Net Worth: $273 billion
Tesla Ownership Stake: 17% ($187 billion)
Other Assets: Space Exploration Technologies ($40.3 billion private asset), $5.7 billion in cash.
As an undergraduate, Elon Musk studied physics and economics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree. To create Zip2, one of the first internet navigation services, Musk postponed attending Stanford University’s graduate physics program for two days. X.com, the online payment system he founded and later sold to eBay Inc. (EBAY), became PayPal Holdings Inc. when he reinvested a share of the startup’s profits (PYPL).
As a major investor in Tesla Motors (now Tesla) in 2004, Elon Musk became CEO of the electric car company.
11 Tesla makes electric cars, energy storage devices, car accessories, and solar power systems thanks to its 2016 acquisition of SolarCity. 12 Musk is also the CEO and chief engineer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), a company that designs and manufactures space launch vehicles. 10
Tesla stock rose 740 percent in 2020, allowing Musk to rise to the top of the richest people in the world. In December 2020, Tesla will join the S&P 500, making it the largest business to join the index since its inception. A year later, in January 2021, Musk surpassed Bill Gates as the richest man in the planet.
Musk posed the question to his Twitter followers on Nov. 6, 2021, asking if they thought he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock in response to criticism that he was hiding unrealized capital gains to avoid paying taxes. 14 During the remainder of 2021, he sold shares worth $16.4 billion. 15
As a Massachusetts Democrat, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has pointed out, Musk paid no income tax in 2018 according to media reports. Tesla CEO Elon Musk answered on Twitter, “And if you opened your eyes for two seconds, you would understand I will pay more taxes this year than any American in history.” 16
This year’s spike in Tesla shares as well as the reported value of SpaceX have helped keep Musk at the top of the worldwide wealth rankings. In November 2021, he had a net worth of $340 billion. Musk’s fortune has grown by 60% in the last year alone (as of Apr. 1, 2022).
2. Jeff Bezos
Founder and Executive Chair: Amazon (AMZN)
Net Worth: $188 billion
Amazon Ownership Stake: 10% ($163 billion)
Other Assets: Blue Origin ($9.15 billion private company stake), The Washington Post ($250 million private asset), and $15.6 billion in cash
When Jeff Bezos resigned from D.E. Shaw, he started Amazon.com in a garage in Seattle in 1994. David E. Shaw, his former supervisor, was initially uninterested in the idea of an online bookstore.
For starters,Amazon.com started off as a book retailer, but it has since evolved into a one-stop shop for nearly everything. In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods and entered the pharmaceutical market, two unexpected developments that show the company’s continual diversification.
With his divorce from MacKenzie Scott, Bezos gave her a 4 percent share of Amazon in 2019. In 2019, he owned up to 16 percent of Amazon. On the heels of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, Amazon’s stock price surged by 76 percent. As of July 5, 2021, Jeff Bezos will no longer serve as the company’s CEO but will instead serve as the company’s executive chair.
In 1999, Bezos became the first person after Bill Gates to amass a fortune in excess of $100 billion after going public with Amazon in 1997. 23 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a slew of side ventures, including the Blue Origin spaceflight firm, The Washington Post, and the Long Now, a 10,000-year clock. 2425
Blue Origin’s first crewed flight, which included Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch student Oliver Daemen, took place on July 20, 2021, reaching a height of over 66 miles before safely landing. In the same month, Bezos’ wealth reached a peak of $211 billion.
3. Bernard Arnault
Residence: Paris, France
CEO and Chair: LVMH (LVMUY)
Net Worth: $148 billion
Christian Dior Ownership Stake: 97.5% ($120 billion total)
Other Assets: Moelis & Company equity ($22.6 billion public asset), Hermès equity (undisclosed stake), and $10.7 billion in cash
LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods corporation, is led by French native Bernard Arnault, who serves as chairman and CEO. Hennessey, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, and Louis Vuitton are some of the brands owned by LVMH.
With a 41.3 percent share in LVMH’s parent company, Christian Dior SE, Arnault is the wealthiest person in the world.
30 His family-owned holding business, Groupe Familial Arnault, owns 6.2 percent of LVMH and Christian Dior SE.
Ferret-Savinel was founded by Arnault’s father, a civil engineer, and he took over the company in 1971 after graduating from engineering school. It was in 1979 that Ferret-Savinel became Férinel Inc., a real estate firm.
For the next six years, Arnault served as chairman of Férinel. In 1984, he acquired and reorganized luxury goods maker Financière Agache, eventually selling all of its holdings except Christian Dior and Le Bon Marché.
32 His invitation to invest in LVMH in 1987 led to his becoming the company’s largest shareholder, chairman of the board and CEO in 1990.
4. Bill Gates
Co-founder: Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
Net Worth: $133 billion
Microsoft Ownership Stake: 1.3% ($31.9 billion)
Other Assets: Cascade Investment LLC ($59.2 billion public assets), $56.9 billion in cash
During his freshman year at Harvard in 1975, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates joined forces with a childhood buddy, Paul Allen, to work on microcomputer software. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 after the success of this experiment.
Apart from creating and selling software, Microsoft also manufactures computers and other electronic devices and publishes books through Microsoft Press. Microsoft also offers email services through its Exchange server.
373839 Gates, who had been Microsoft’s top software architect until 2008, now serves as the board’s chair. In 2004, he became a board member of Berkshire Hathaway. 40 On March 13, 2020, he resigned from both boards.
Cascade Investment LLC is where much of Bill Gates’ wealth is invested. Canadian National Railway (CNR), Deere (DE), and Republic Services (RSG) are all owned by Cascade, a privately held investment vehicle that also has private investments in real estate and energy.
After the merger of the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation in 2000, Gates and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, continue to co-chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
4344 They’ve spent a lot of money fighting polio and malaria through the charity. 45 It donated $50 million to the Ebola fight in 2014. 46 The COVID-19 pandemic had cost the foundation more over $1.9 billion as early 2021.
When Bill Gates and Warren Buffett launched the Giving Pledge campaign in 2010, they were joined by other prominent philanthropists in calling on the wealthy to pledge a significant portion of their money to charitable organizations.
48 Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates separated on August 2, 2021, according to court records. 49 The divorce resulted in the transfer of around $5 billion in stocks to French Gates.
5. Warren Buffett
CEO: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)
Net Worth: $127 billion
Berkshire Hathaway Ownership Stake: 16% ($126 billion)
Other Assets: $1.15 billion in cash
Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous living value investor, submitted his first tax return in 1944 when he was just 14 years old. 51 When he initially invested in Berkshire Hathaway as a stockholder in 1962, he had already amassed a sizable stake. When he started the company in 1967, he added insurance and other investments. As of April 1, 2022, the market capitalization of Berkshire Hathaway is $705 billion, with a single share (Class A shares) trading at more than $527,760.
Omaha’s “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett, prefers to invest in firms that are undervalued and hold on to them for the long term.
52 Berkshire Hathaway has recently invested in well-known corporations. 54 Insurance, energy distribution, railroads, and consumer goods are among the company’s many wholly owned subsidiaries. 55 Buffett is a well-known skeptic of the Bitcoin currency.
Buffett has given up a large portion of his fortune to charitable causes. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his children’s organizations received the bulk of his $41 billion in gifts from 2006 through 2020. 57 The Giving Pledge was founded by Buffett and Bill Gates in 2010. 48
The 91-year-old CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, hinted about his replacement in 2021—Gregory Abel. Non-insurance operations are overseen by Abel.
6. Larry Page
Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)
Net Worth: $125 billion
Alphabet Ownership Stake: 6% ($109.6 billion total)
Other Assets: $14.9 billion in cash59
The journey to Larry Page’s money began in a college dorm room, like it did for many of the other tech billionaires on this list. Improved internet data extraction was a notion Page and Sergey Brin came up with while attending Stanford University in 1995. As a result of its capability to examine “backing links,” the two came up with a new search engine technology they named “Backrub.” On the heels of it, Page and Brin founded Google in 1998, with Page serving as CEO of the company until 2001, then again from 2011 to 2019.
More than 92% of all searches on the internet are conducted using Google as the primary search engine.
62 The business bought YouTube in 2006, making it the most popular place for people to upload their own videos. 63 Google released the Android smartphone operating system in 2008 after purchasing Android, Inc. in 2005. 6465 Reorganization of Google took place in 2015, when it became part of Alphabet, a holding corporation.
Planetary Resources, a space exploration and asteroid mining corporation founded by Page, was one of those early investors. When ConsenSys purchased the company in 2018 due to financial difficulties, the company was founded in 2009. 67 “Flying car” firms like Kitty Hawk and Opener have also been on his list of investments. In 2021, Google’s stock surged about 50%, putting Page and Brin at the top of the billionaires’ list. As of March 2020, Page’s net worth had grown to $125 billion, up from just under $52 billion.
7. Sergey Brin
Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)
Net Worth: $119 billion
Alphabet Ownership Stake: 6% ($104.4 billion total)
Other Assets: $15 billion in cash
His family moved to the United States in 1979, when he was just six years old, from Moscow, Russia. Brin, who co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998, became Google’s president of technology in 2001 when Eric Schmidt became CEO. When Sundar Pichai took over as CEO of Alphabet in 2019, he remained in the same position but stepped down.
Google Workspace contains Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Slides, as well as a slew of other online tools and services.
72 Aside from computers, smartphones, and tablets, Google now sells Nest smart home gadgets and the Stadia gaming platform.
Alphabet’s research lab X, where projects like Waymo’s self-driving cars and Google Glass smart glasses were developed, was the center of most of Brin’s attention in 2019.
74 In addition, he has donated millions of dollars to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Disease Research Foundation. 75 During the last year, Brin’s net worth has increased by more than 25%.
8. Steve Ballmer
Owner: Los Angeles Clippers
Net Worth: $108 billion
Microsoft Ownership Stake: 4% ($98.8 billion total)
Other Assets: Los Angeles Clippers ($3.16 billion private asset), $5.93 billion in cash
Bill Gates persuaded Steve Ballmer to leave Stanford’s MBA program in 1980 so that he could join Microsoft. He was the 30th person to work for Microsoft. In 2000, Ballmer was named Microsoft CEO, succeeding Bill Gates. He served in that capacity until he resigned in 2014. Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype in 2011, under the direction of Ballmer.
Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who controls an estimated 4% of the company. For $2 billion, Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team in 2014, shortly after his resignation as Microsoft CEO.
He shared a dorm room with Bill Gates while they were both undergraduates at Harvard. They had a “brotherly” bond before Ballmer started pushing the firm into hardware, such as the Surface tablet and Windows mobile phone, as CEO.
9. Larry Ellison
Co-founder, Chair and CTO: Oracle (ORCL)
Net Worth: $103 billion
Oracle Ownership Stake: 40% ($68.4 billion)
Other Assets: Tesla equity ($16.3 billion public asset), $17.6 billion in cash and real estate
New York City’s Larry Ellison was the product of an unmarried 19-year-old mother. A computer programmer, Ellison traveled to California in 1966 after he dropped out of the University of Chicago. He met future business partners Ed Oates and Bob Miner while working at Ampex in 1973. Ellison went to Precision Instruments three years later, where he served as vice president of R&D.
Ellison, Oates, and Miner created Software Development Laboratories (SDL) in 1977. Structured Query Language (SQL) was introduced by the business in its first commercial relational database product, Oracle, two years later. 80 As a result of its success, SDL was renamed Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982. After 37 years as Oracle’s CEO, Ellison stepped down in 2014. As of December 2018, he was on Tesla’s Board.
For example, the Oracle Exadata computing platform and Java and Linux code are both developed by Oracle, the world’s second-largest software corporation.
828384 In 2005, Oracle purchased PeopleSoft, a provider of human resources management software,in 2006, Siebel, a provider of customer relationship management software, in 2008, and in 2009, enterprise infrastructure software provider BEA Systems. 85 By the end of December 2021, Oracle has agreed to pay $28.3 billion in cash for the medical records software supplier Cerner Corp. (CERN).
Ellison, who has long been known for his excessive spending, has invested substantially in luxury real estate in the last ten years. In 2012, the millionaire purchased practically the whole Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million, where he has since resided since the beginning of 2019. 81 On the island, Ellison has constructed a hydroponics farm and a luxury spa. 87
In his philanthropy, Ellison has concentrated on medical research. President Trump donated $200 million to a new cancer research center at the University of Southern California in 2016. Oracle Team USA, which won the America’s Cup racing series in 2010 and 2013, was supported by 88 Ellison.
10. Gautam Adani
Residence: Gurgaon, India
Founder and Chair: Adani Group
Net Worth: $100 billion
Adani Enterprises, Power. and Transmissions Ownership Stakes: 75% each ($51.3 billion)
Other Assets: 65% of Adani Green Energy ($23.4 billion public asset), 61% of Adani Green Energy ($24.3 billion public asset), 37% of Adani Total Gas ($12.2 billion public asset)
Adani Group founder Gautam Adani will overtake Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest man in March 2022. Adani owns major stakes in six important Indian companies through his Adani Group, including 75% in Adani Enterprises, 61% in Adani Green Energy, and 37% in Adani Total Gas. He also owns 65% in Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone and 61% in Adani Power.
Adani Group-owned firms have a collective market value of $179 billion (as of Apr. 1, 2022). Adani Power was Adani’s first foray into the power generation business in 2009. Since its founding in 1988, Adani’s Adani Enterprises has been a major player in the import and export of commodities. Mundra Port, which is presently the largest private port in India, was approved for development by his business in 1994.
Previously, Adani worked in the diamond industry after dropping out of college. Adani has now become India’s largest port operator, thermal coal producer, and trader in coal. In 2020, he bought a 74% share in Mumbai International Airport, the second busiest airport in India. Kidnappers in 1997 demanded a ransom from the wealthy. During the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai’s Taj hotel, Adani was also present.
For those aspiring to be one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires, a career in technology or luxury retail may be in order. There is the option of focusing solely on value investment. Having been born into a wealthy family wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. The wealthiest persons on this list, on the other hand, made their riches through the implementation of brilliant ideas by individuals who possessed the necessary combination of drive, ambition, and social connections.